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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bar Harbor Half Marathon race review

Race website:

Pre-race info, registration, and logistics:
You can register online up until Tuesday of the race week. Website is unclear and hard to read; information was hard to find. There is no race day registration. Packet pick up was the night before (where? Who knows? It wasn't listed. The website just said, "packet pickup on Friday at x:xx". I finally found it under the FAQ's); however, you could request race morning pick-up, which I did. Cost at any time was $100 for the half, which is...steep. Just like the hills. But it supports the YMCA, so I guess that's ok. Speaking of the YMCA, if you bring your own soap and towel, you can shower at the Y after the race, which is exactly what I did since we continued on from the race straight to the airport to fly home.

Lodging and transportation:
This is a race far away in the corner of the world on an island, so I assume you'd only run it if you were staying on Mount Desert Island! No roads are closed, so you can get to the race easily. 
That is hideous.

Swag: The worst race shirt I have ever received in my life and a bottle of vinegar from a local store, plus lots of coupons and fliers. The shirt is advertised as "long sleeved tech T" and instead it is a terrible shapeless short sleeved nightmare with a neckline so tight that I can't actually get it over my head. The medal is unique and lovely, one of my favorites, and I will certainly be turning this into a Christmas tree ornament.
Non-metal medal in the shape of Mt. Desert Island

The course is a "challenging" (as the website describes it) loop course comprising streets of Bar Harbor and 9 miles of carriage roads in Acadia National Park. I found the course to be quite hilly, but take it with a grain of salt, since I run only flats usually. But for comparison, the week before I ran my regular long run of 12.5 miles at the same pace as the race! The park is incredibly beautiful, especially as you circle Eagle Lake, but it is lots of ups and downs and it's on gravel paths. They are generally fine for running, but you have to run where the path is more packed down - the gravel is looser and deeper on the sides, and it's a waste of energy to try to run through it. 
Entering the gravel carriage roads (and grabbing water)

Not much is actually on the roads, and Bar Harbor at this time of year doesn't have crazy traffic, but I still didn't love that the roads were not closed. The race course wasn't even coned off or anything. It was just me and the highway traffic. 
Plus side to the hilly course: it ends with a steeply downhill mile. Odd part of the course: you head into a playing field to finish and have to make a sharp left turn at like, 13.05. Weird and poorly planned IMO.
Interestingly, Joan Benoit Samuelson holds the women's course record in 1:17:06!

Aid stations:
There are six; two have Gatorade in addition to water. 

 Gun-timed. First three overall and first three in age groups. The director was nice enough to let me get my AG award early, and allow me to swap a restaurant gift certificate (we were leaving ASAP) for a box of locally-made blueberry tea. Plus the ubiquitous Road ID coupon, which I sold on Ebay.

- The race is capped at 400 runners, and I think we got close to that number, so sign up early. 
- Remember the gravel when choosing shoes (I was fine in Kinvaras, but for you racing flat types, that might hurt).
- There are few, if any, spectators, so if spectators are your thing, I wouldn't do this race. 
- There are no cars on the carriage roads, but there are bicyclists and regular runners and walkers to watch out for.


  1. So were you happy with your result or not? You got an AG award, so that was a good run - right? And the shirt sounds wonderful ... since you couldn't get it over your head, are you sure it wasn't an arm-warmer? I've made that mistake.

    1. Heck no I wasn't happy with my result! I ran a 1:37! That sucked!

    2. Oh sorry, I can relate to a poor race!

  2. That shirt...yikes! The cut reminds me of the shirt I got from my first ever half marathon (in 2007, so tech shirts were kind of a new thing). It had those giant sleeves and the tiny head hole..who are these things made to fit? Maybe you can make it into a tank top? Blueberry tea, on the other hand, sounds like a delicious award!

  3. That shirt is pretty bad. The only thing I like about it is the colour.

  4. I like the color of the shirt too! But, that cut is really not flattering at all.

  5. I think the medal makes up for a bad shirt - it's really great!